For 27 years, Ava Johnson has driven from Recluse, Wyoming to cook for
Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette.
“You can count the number of times she was unable to make it to work
on one hand,” says Legend
Lisa Miller, CCH Director of
Nutrition Services. “Ava is a joy to have as an employee; if there is a problem, she
brings it to the forefront and brings solutions to the table to make positive
This dedication, and impeccable work ethic, has earned Ava a Legend Award.
For those who don't know, CCH defined a Legend as:
Those people who have left an indelible impression on our minds because
of their deeds and actions. Ongoing demonstration of hard work, compassion,
and a reputation for greatness make someone a legend.
A graduate of
Campbell County High School, Ava spent some time studying nursing at Casper College. In December 1991,
she took a job with CCH Nutrition Services at CCMH as a part-time and
on-call employee in the kitchen. After some time, she decided to attend
cooking school in Seattle, Wash, training that CCH provided to her. The
rest is history!
According to her nomination form, completed by Lisa and other colleagues
in Nutrition Services:
“Ava has been cooking at CCH for the last 27 years there is not a
tray that is sent that is not perfect before she allows it to be sent
to the patient. Her compassion and commitment to making sure ALL CCH patients
have quality food for every meal shows from the entree to the garnish
she prepares. Ava is considered a silent leader among co-workers, and
is the go to if they need a mentor or a friendly ear.”
Lisa also said that Ava leads by example and sets the bar high for others reach.
“Her food by taste and sight speaks for itself,” she says.
“There’s a saying in the kitchen: If Ava's not happy there
is something we need to change.’”
Ava works behind the scenes to assure CCH is serving quality and appealing
food to our hospital patients and customers. She motivates the staff with
her friendly, positive demeanor.
In early 2016, Ava was re-inspired to do go the extra mile at work.
“There was a pediatric patient on the
Medical/Surgical Unit, and I was asked if I could do something fun on the patient’s lunch
plate to brighten her day,” says Ava. “I created a garnish
made from a lemon to resemble a mouse. The patient’s family made
sure to get me a thank you and let me know the child loved the garnish.”
Since then, Ava has created hundreds of special garnishes for our young
patients. The garnishes are bright and cute, and are put onto pediatric
patients’ trays to let them know how special they are to CCH, and to Ava.
“I have been told countless times how the special treat has brightened
the patient’s day and made their stay more enjoyable,” she
says. “I truly enjoy making children happy.”
Colleagues will tell you that Ava's compassion for patients, staff
and customers is phenomenal. Every day she comes to work with the mindset
of taking care of our patients, staff and customers and never lets anything
get in the way of that goal.
“Her longevity here at CCH puts her in a whole different class and
her co-workers value her and her years of knowledge,” says Lisa.
“The care that she has for pediatric patients with the garnishes
she makes truly shows not only her creative and fun side, but also the
fact of always willing to go above and beyond.”
When Ava isn’t at work, she enjoys bicycling, working in her yard
and hunting with her husband. She also enjoys trips to Deadwood, enjoying
nature and generally just spending time outside.
Ava has been married for 45 years, and the pair raised four children—who
have given the grandparents 11 grandchildren.
“I have always enjoyed teaching my older grandkids how to drive a
standard transmission. It’s been a long tradition dating back to
teaching and driving with my children,” says Ava. “With my
younger grandchildren I love to rock them, love on them, and hear the
most adorable things they have to say!”
To her colleagues, Ava is known for her kindness. The love and joy she
spreads with just her smile to everyone she meets is always welcome in
“There’s so many important jobs in a hospital. But, for patients,
staff, and customers, food is also important,” says Ava. “It’s
such an honor to be recognized for the work I do.”
It’s clear to her colleagues, that Ava takes pride in the work that
she does. And now it’s clear to all of us at CCH.
Thank you, Ava, for going the extra mile for our patients. Your positive
attitude and smile is a welcomed site at CCH. Congratulations on your